Cape Cod, Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard
When summer comes around, New England's top seashore destination gets packed to the gills. Cars stream over the two bridges that connect Cape Cod to the mainland, ferries shuttle visitors to and from the islands, and sun-seeking bodies plop down on towels all along the shore. This trio of destinations offers a beach for every mood.
With more lobsters, lighthouses and charming resort villages than you can shake a selfie stick at, Maine is New England at its most iconic. The sea looms large here, with mile upon mile of jagged sea cliffs, peaceful harbors and pebbly beaches. Eat and drink your way through food- and beer-crazed Portland, one of America's coolest small cities.
Quaint fishing villages, kitschy tourist traps and genteel towns – the Cape has many faces. Each attracts a different crowd. Families seeking calm waters perfect for little tykes favor Cape Cod Bay on the peninsula's quieter north side. College students looking to play hard in the day and let loose after the sun goes down set out for Falmouth or Wellfleet.
Known for its commuter cities, New York's neighbor is synonymous with the affluent lanes and mansions of The Stepford Wives and TV's Gilmour Girls. In old-moneyed Greenwich, Litchfield Hills and the Quiet Corner, these representations ring true, although many regard the state as a mere stepping stone to the 'real' New England, of whose tourist boom Connecticut was spared.
Boston may be the state capital, but it's not the only town in eastern Massachusetts with traveler appeal. Many nearby places with rich histories, vibrant cultural scenes and unique events merit a visit. Easily accessible from Boston, most of these are ideal day-trip destinations.
Rhode Island, the smallest of the US states, isn't actually an island. Although it takes only 45 minutes to traverse, this little wonder packs in over 400 miles of coastline with some of the finest white-sand swimming beaches in the northeast, deserted coves, rugged seaside cliffs and isolated lighthouses.
Central Massachusetts & the Berkshires
Artfully blending the cultural and cosmopolitan with the rural and rustic, the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires offer a tantalizing mix of artistic offerings, verdant hills and sweet farmland. Stretch your quads on hiking trails up Massachusetts' highest mountain and through nature preserves that blanket the surrounding hills.
Northern Vermont is home to the state's largest city, Burlington, and the state capital, Montpelier. Never fear, however: this area still has all of the rural charms found elsewhere. Even within Burlington, cafe-lined streets coexist with scenic paths along Lake Champlain and the Winooski River.
The entire coast of Massachusetts claims a rich history, but no part offers more recreational, cultural and dining diversions than the North Shore of Boston. Salem was among America's wealthiest ports during the 19th century; Gloucester is the nation's most famous fishing port; and Marblehead remains one of the premier yachting centres.